Have you wondered whether you could have done something different as a parent to prevent your child’s addiction?
Oh gosh yes. I think every parent initially kind of blames themself for their child’s addiction. I can remember one thing that really sticks in my mind: when Jack was little he would always say, “Well my sister gets to do that. Why don’t I get to do that?” Or “You bought her that. Why didn’t you buy me that?” And my reply was … always as a joke, “I like her better than you.” One time my husband and I were getting ready to go on a trip. We were going to Hawaii with three other couples. I went in to say goodbye to Jack and he said, “You know mom, you really hurt my feelings when you say that.” And I thought “Oh my gosh.” Even now I wonder whether I caused his addiction by saying that to him? Did I make him feel so unworthy? I know I didn’t cause it. I know in my heart and I know in my brain I didn’t cause it. I don’t think I could have stopped it. And short of forbidding him to see people, there’s nothing we could have done.
I think all parents wonder what they could have done differently. I was there for both of my children. I was always available to them no matter what. My children were active in sports. They were active in school. They were active in our church. No, I don’t know if there is anything I could have done differently.
I could have been more observant. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, a lot of times it is a duck. Our youngest son is 17 now, and he gets so frustrated because if he goes out to Lafayette or if he goes out to a movie, we want to know who he’s going with, we want to know who is driving, we want to know what movie he’s going to go see and that he better be back in this house by such and such time. He gets so frustrated because we gave Brady a lot more freedom. But you can’t take your guard down when it comes to your children. You just can’t. My mom, as much as she loved me, was very liberal with me and she let her guard down. And I don’t blame my addiction on her at all.
Other than lock her up? You know, I’m not sure. I mean, the influences of that young man … he was the person who actually turned her onto heroin the first time. I mean, I put part of the blame on her, too. He has his own addiction issues. Still, could I have forbidden her to see him? I think it is somewhat naïve of me to think that I could have had that control over her. You know what it is like. You know – if mom or dad says you can’t do that, then you find a way. Part of parenting is realizing you don’t have control. She had a cadre of friends who were good kids. They weren’t crazy partiers. She didn’t hang out with the partiers. That’s the irony here.
I would have tried to figure out a way to work well with their dad. But I don’t know if that would have made a difference. I don’t think I could have prevented anything but it’s hard not to rewind and blame yourself for a lot of things.
Travis: I made a lot of mistakes. I set a standard that was really high in our home. And part of that was because of my life. Part of that was the Marine Corp in me that demanded excellence. And so I demanded excellence all the time. Not just of my kids, but of myself, too. Looking back, some of the things I did with Tyler was me wishing I had a father that did that to me. I didn’t have a father demanding excellence out of me. And so I did that. And there is no doubt I was too tough at times.
Wayne – We should have known what the heck an opiate was. We should have been more educated. We should have understood prescription medication. Period. I don’t care if it is Xanax, I don’t care if it is opiates. I don’t care if it is Adderall. Understand that these drugs get shared by our kids very early. Understand what they are. We should have asked about Vicoden and found out that it is addictive. We should have known whether 60 was a lot and whether he took them all or not. He was 19 years old and they didn’t offer them to us. They offered them to him. We didn’t know if there were refills. And would we have known? Not with HIPAA laws. That would have been stage one.
Stage two, his freshman year after he had one semester there, his coach calls me and asks if one of his teammates could come home with Tyler for spring break. We said sure. What’s the matter? He said his home life was a little jacked up and he said he knew we ran a tight household, so was it all right if he comes over? He said he knew Tyler was a good kid. Well, low and behold, this quarterback had been in rehab twice. So he sent the fox to the hen house. We had no idea. That would have been good to know. Our radar would have been up. We would have been asking a lot more questions. We just assumed Tyler had bad money management skills. And that just enabled it and that let his addiction go further. And then you start helping them financially and start paying rent. We probably could have gotten to it earlier before it dug it’s claws in. So as a parent, absolutely don’t take anything for granted. Don’t trust anything. Really. I hate to be a helicopter parent, but you’re allowed to go through their room as long as they are a dependent of yours. That’s ok. Go through their room. Be curious.